Rangers have the assets and desire to acquire Pierre-Luc Dubois
If the Columbus Blue Jackets decide to move Pierre-Luc Dubois this season, they will probably conclude quickly that the New York Rangers are the most intriguing potential trading partner.
When it comes to Dubois, the Rangers have a need, the resources required to make a deal, and a couple of important connections to the player.
Although Dubois hasn’t publicly declared his desire to be traded, the Blue Jackets all but confirmed his request by saying they would deal with it with the same openness they showed when Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky wanted out.
The Blue Jackets have time to figure out their best course of action because Dubois signed a two-year bridge deal for $5 million per season.
The appeal of moving Dubois to the Rangers is that New York has a platoon of young players to give back in any trade. Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen would probably ask for Alexis Lafreniere, but that would be a non-starter.
More likely, the deal, if it happens, would look something like Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Strome and another noteworthy player or asset moving to Columbus for Dubois.
Teams will have to give up significant players to acquire Dubois.
Dubois, 22, was the No. 3 pick in 2016, while Kakko was the No. 2 pick in 2019. The Blue Jackets would be giving up a productive first-line center, and Kakko’s lure is still more about promise than performance. Dubois boasts 65 goals and 158 points in his first three NHL seasons. In 10 playoff games last season, he also had 10 points. Kakko projects to be a top line scorer, but he’s not there yet. That’s why the Blue Jackets would want more.
Strome probably would have to be in the deal to make the Dubois salary work for the Rangers’ salary cap. Plus, the Blue Jackets would need a center.
The prospect of landing Dubois has to be enticing for the Rangers. They could have a one-two center combination of Mika Zibanejad and Dubois, and still have enough quality wingers to play with both of them. New York president John Davidson was in Columbus when Dubois was drafted. Plus, Panarin played on a line with Dubois. It’s not hard to envision Panarin telling his buddy Dubois how much fun it is to play in the Big Apple.
The Blue Jackets may not be in a hurry to move Dubois. The Blue Jackets have to be weary of their history of having some players say they don’t want to stay in Columbus. They have gone through this with Rick Nash, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. They may wait to see if a strong run by the Blue Jackets this season might alter the Dubois thinking. The Blue Jackets don’t want to go through this again when Seth Jones and Zach Werensky become unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Here are other teams that might be interested if the Blue Jackets move him:
Montreal Canadiens: Dubois grew up in Rimouski, Quebec and the Canadiens will offer a package for him. It will probably include center Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Los Angeles Kings; An Anze Kopitar-Dubois center combination would be intriguing for a retooling team. The Blue Jackets would likely ask for Quinton Byfield, the No. 2 draft pick in the most recent NHL draft.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild are looking for a premium center, but they don’t seem to have a great fit for a trade. They could give up a defenseman, but the Blue Jackets’ defense is strong.
Calgary Flames: Maybe The Flames might be interested in a swap that would include Johnny Gaudreau, but the Blue Jackets may not